Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cunning Little Vixen.. Indeed

So, Cunning Little Vixen, hey? An opera I knew of, but had never seen. So thanks to the generosity of ABC Classic FM and the wonders of cinema, I got to see the Glyndebourne production.

And what a production it is. Truly sumptuous and beautiful, yet playful and bringing a fanciful story to life..

So, first off, let me say, I have never seen a production of this before. And, well, I had no idea it was going to be so funny! Like belly laughs in the theatre funny. But it was. And it is. Funny.

But, the music you say? Well, Janacek would have been pleased, I am sure. The orchestra sounded both lush and brash, with spiky alternating with lyricism as seems to be Janacek's way. Vladimir Jurowski lead them with a very sure hand. Melly Still has directed a gorgeous production with amazing costuming and sets.

Now, about the performers…

As the Vixen, Lucy Crowe was a lot of fun. She had the feisty minx down pat. Was she as successful with the love scene? Possibly not, but that really is a small part of the story, not dominant, so it does not matter as much. She sang beautifully throughout and appeared to be having a ball. We certainly had a ball watching her.

Sergei Leiferkus as the Forester at first seemed to be a bit out of sorts, but he grew into the role as the evening progressed, which is just as well as his biggest vocal demands are at the end. You ended believing in him as someone who loved this forest, even as he was also clumsily rustic earlier.

But for me, the biggest vocal treats were two of the minor players. I loved the voice of William Dazeley as Harasta the poacher and Mischa Schelomianski as the Parson and Badger, both deep rich voices full of resonance. Yes, I know, how surprising! I particularly wished that Harasta was a bigger part, simply to hear more of that voice.

Of course, this production is very much about the animals.  My favourites were definitely the hens. A chorus of hens, who get attacked by a fox. What could go wrong? (smirk) They really were hilariously funny. All preening desperately for the attention of the rooster, but most ending up dead thanks to our heroine.

But ultimately, this production stands or falls by the effect. Do the animals tell you something? Do you get a sense of having seen something life affirming? Are you reminded of a world out there, beyond your immediate surrounds? And for me, the answer, resoundingly, was yes. This was a production both funny, and with heart, that truly rare beast. And left me saying "more please"

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